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Kansas City bike share program goes dockless

Ride KC bike share bikewalkkc.jpeg
Posted at 5:26 AM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 07:15:44-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You can now rent and return a bicycle from the RideKC Bike Share program anywhere by using an app.

In 2020, the program eliminated the docking system it’s used since its inception in 2012.

Eric Vaughan, BikeWalkKC’s director of bike share and business services, said the new layout allows for more flexibility.

Instead of having to dock the bicycle and then walk the remaining distance to a final destination, users can ride to their final destination and lock the bicycle to a rack, street pole or other fixtures.

“They [bicycles] are out there in a whole bunch of new neighborhoods, but we’re continuously hearing the call for more bikes, so I think that’s a really good place to be,” Vaughan said.

Kansas City, Missouri, North Kansas City and Lenexa all participate in the bike-share program. Vaughan said he expects more cities to join this spring.

BikeWalkKC sold its old docks and corresponding bicycles to cities still using the technology, like Omaha, Nebraska, and Fort Worth, Texas.

Since 2019, BikeWalkKC has added electric bikes to its fleet. The E-bikes now account for about half of the bicycles available for rent. Vaughan said the electric motors give users a boost going up hills and on long trips. He called them “no sweat bikes” because you don’t sweat as much while pedaling.

In 2020, cities like Kansas City, Kansas, adopted complete streets policies. The policies promote building street infrastructure to accommodate cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. As a result, Vaughan expects more cities to add bike lanes in 2021.

“We want to make sure there is infrastructure out there that serves everyone,” he explained. “So no matter what type of transportation you’re using, whether you’re walking, you’re in a car or in a bus, we want to make sure there’s infrastructure that serves everybody.”

Vaughan said BikeWalkKC surveys show the top reason people don’t ride bicycles is that they don’t feel safe riding on the roads.

As an example, Kansas City, Kansas, Roeland Park, and Westwood, Kansas, worked together to add bike lanes to 47th Street west of Rainbow Boulevard in 2020. The road now features pedestrian crosswalks, a middle turning lane for vehicles and bike lanes on each side of the street.